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Within the past couple weeks someone posted this question asking "What's so special about Jules Verne?"

At first glance, I wanted to close this question. It seems fully subjective and requires an opinion on the quality of an author's work, which is not the type of question that can be answered with a clear answer. In other words a bad question for this site.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, "This is a not only a legitimate question, but a good question. This addresses points beyond the subjective. Most people know about current literature and movies, but many have not explored important and seminal works (and authors) of SF&F. A perfect example of that is the recent movie Hugo. I've talked with many people who have seen the movie and had never heard of Georges Melies before seeing Hugo. Melies was seminal and important to film and the SF&F world, yet few today know about him.

Many of us have heard of Jules Verne or H. G. Wells, but we don't know where they fit in the world of SF&F. And, for that matter, even more people have no idea how important Poe was to the genre and how he's sometimes called The Father of Science Fiction (as well as The Father of Horror and The Father of the Mystery Story).

While one can get some of that from general reference sources, even the Wikipedia can be pedantic sometimes, and often leaves out some viewpoints.

This person is not asking for a long essay (although my answer was kind of long), and most of what they're asking can be given as a subjective answers. I feel I did a lot of that, by specifying what Verne did to develop the genre and what he did before others did it.

It seems to me this is the kind of question that requires a meaty answer, and that it is a movement away from the types of questions that some people have complained about or called trivial.

Should this question really be closed? Is it possible that what it needs might be some editing along the way, as opposed to closing?

The more I think about it, the more I think this question should be re-opened.

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    After seeing some of what Movies.SE has been doing with fostering analysis questions, I'd like to encourage similar questions here, but it requires a great deal of work and caution. – user1027 Jun 12 '12 at 3:35
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    In addition, your penultimate paragraph has a false dichotomy, closed questions can be edited and then reopened. – user1027 Jun 12 '12 at 3:43
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Firstly, I think it's important to keep in mind it wasn't a controversial closure: the question is currently sitting at 0/-7 and it was closed less than 24 hours after it was asked. The community flatly rejected it: but why?

While it might be an interesting or thought-provoking question, Stack Exchange is not meant to be a repository of every single interesting question that might be asked on the Internet. Instead, it's meant to be a place to ask and answer very specific types of questions: namely, questions that can have a correct and/or definitive answer. Voting, our main ability to sort answers, works by people recognizing when someone provides the correct answer and when someone provides a wrong, or unhelpful, answer.

Asking why Jules Verne is so special, besides being a loaded question (is he so special? According to whom? What do you mean by "special"?), will not produce a definitive answer because there's no correctness criteria: instead, it'll produce people's opinions about why he's special (or why he isn't). So there's no means by which to vote on answers except on wishy-washy things like whether the answer agrees with someone's opinion, or whether it's an interesting take on the question.

In the end, the question is just another discussion about Jules Verne with no solid answers, just a bunch of food for thought. Exactly the type of thing Stack Exchange aims to avoid.

Even if you grant that there's somehow a definitive or correct answer to why Jules Verne is so special, we're talking about one of the fathers of modern science fiction: people can and have written books about him and his impact. Comprehensively answering the question (again, a cornerstone of the type of Q&A Stack Exchange attempts to provide) cannot be done in the "fun size unit of work" that Stack Exchange runs on. Which is why we have this in the FAQ:

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

With that said, there are potentially a number of ways to ask something similar here. If the question can be revised in some way that explains what, specifically, is the problem with Jules Verne being considered special, that'd at least be a starting point.

Things like:

  • It's said that X was influenced by Jules Verne: what exactly was the nature of that influence?
  • How was Jules Verne involved to the early science fiction community?
  • Is X science fiction trope attributable to Jules Verne? Why?

The key theme amongst these questions is that they are asking something a) specific and b) verifiable. Otherwise, it just goes back to being a prompt for discussion about Jules Verne instead of solving a problem.

But, putting aside revising the question, a treatise on why Jules Verne is so important to science fiction is always something that could be written on the blog.

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When I first saw the question, I almost closed it as “not a real question”, but decided to leave a comment and leave the tab open. There was a question mark in there, but no actual meaningful question:

What differentiated Jules Verne from his fellow science-fiction peers? What's so special about Jules Verne?

This is extremely vague. Maybe a dissertation about Jules Verne would answer this, maybe not. The other paragraph doesn't clarify, except to try a comparison with H.G. Wells — but “I have trouble seeing any differences between them” is not answerable.

The asker didn't come back to reply, and hasn't even come back to the site after the question was closed, so we can consider the question abandoned.

This is a textbook example of a case where the question had to be closed in its present form, but should be reopened after having been edited to fit the site.

Your answer addresses a particular point about Jules Verne's influences. Given that the question is abandoned, I think the question can be made more specific and reopened. Your edit still leaves it very broad, I would prefer something more specific.

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  • Could you give an example of something that would point it in a more specific direction? – Tango Jun 12 '12 at 14:55
  • @TangoOversway Given that the question is abandoned, you might as well make it ask what you answer: how Poe influenced Verne. – user56 Jun 12 '12 at 15:05
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    The poster just selected my answer, so I guess it's no longer abandon. (And I forgot to provide a comment that I opened this discussion, so thanks for adding that.) – Tango Jun 12 '12 at 18:58
  • To be honest, this is a tad late, but I really worded that question tremendously badly. Thanks for the support though. – yuritsuki Feb 5 '13 at 5:26

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